Tuesday, September 28, 2021

One of My Few Strengths is Also One of My Many Defects

I don't panic. At least, I don't recall panicking, ever, in my adult life.

As a kid, yes. I could get scared and freak out and get stupid quite easily. For example, I once ran into a strand of barbed wire, 1/8th of an inch below eye level, when it was getting dark and I didn't really know the terrain I was running across very well. I was maybe eight or nine, and I thought I was going to die. I screamed in panic all the way to the ER, although I did calm down for the 80-odd stitches required to sew my face and ear back together, because that was, well, interesting.

When I joined the Marine Corps, but before I went to boot camp, it occurred to me that there was one particular fear I was simply going to have conquer: Heights. Get me more than about 10 feet off the ground without walls around me, and I simply panicked and had to get the fuck down.

It also occurred to me that it would be better to conquer it before getting to boot camp instead of freezing up or freaking out on e.g. the "confidence course," where I'd be expected to go down the "slide for life," a diagonal rope, face first for a bit before kicking around, from 50 feet up (some recruits in my platoon did freeze up or freak out; I got an interesting story out of the deal, but it was a victorious one instead).

So, the spring before boot camp, I climbed a tower. It was one of those conservation "fire watch" towers in a nearby state forest.

I started going out to that tower almost every night and climbing the stairs, in the dark, as high as I could stand to go before I had to get the fuck down.

Over time, I managed to climb higher and higher, until one night I reached the top accessible part of the tower (there was a little cabin on top, but it was padlocked when the tower wasn't manned, which seemed to be all the time).

Then I started doing it during the daylight hours.

It probably took me a month of going out there nearly every day to get to where I could climb the stairs all the way to the top, in daylight, and look down without freaking out, hyperventilating, and having to get the fuck down. I was still scared. But I wasn't panicked any more.

And that ability to suppress panic took. For heights -- I've climbed and rappelled off 120-foot cliff faces, rappelled out of helicopters, etc. without losing my shit -- and for, so far as I can tell, everything else. 

I've been shot at, and kept my cool. I've had what I plausibly believed might be a suicide truck bomb driver coming directly toward me, and kept my cool. I've had stuff blow up near me that wasn't supposed to blow up near me, and kept my cool. I've accidentally sliced my leg wide open, requiring (IIRC) 17 staples to close, and kept my cool. And so on, and so forth.

I think not panicking is a strength.

But it's also a defect.

Why? Because somewhere along that line I lost a certain amount of capacity for understanding or empathizing with other people when they panic.

I have (literally) put out fires, etc. because I kept my head, acting while other people within a few feet of me were still milling around freaking out. And I've felt anger toward them, when I should have simply understood that not everyone has had experiences which required, or led to, mastery of panic.

As you may have noticed, there's been a lot of panic this last 18 months. And my response to that panic, where I've encountered it on an individual basis, has not always been helpful. Sorry about that. I'll try to do better in the future.

Because Really, Wouldn't You Rather I Wore Pants?

I woke up this morning thinking about inflation, which quickly led to me thinking about pants.

Why did I wake up thinking about inflation?

Well, because I think about inflation a lot lately. Prices seem to be going up faster than the "official inflation statistics" of "worrisome" rates of 5%-ish indicate. Unsurprising:

In the last 18 months, the US “M2” money supply (coin currency, physical paper, central bank reserves, demand deposits, travelers’ checks, savings deposits and money market shares) has increased from about $15.4 trillion to nearly $20.4 trillion.

That’s a 24% increase, annualizing to an inflation rate of about 16% — if production of goods and services kept up. But it didn’t. US Gross Domestic Product dropped from more than $21.4 trillion in 2019 to less than $20.1 trillion in 2020.

Why did this lead to thinking about pants?

Well, because on of the things I purchase on a fairly regular basis, online via Amazon (making it easy to go see what I paid for it and when), is Thai fisherman pants.

I own a pair of jeans, a couple of suits, a few pairs of shorts, and a pair of swim trunks, but mainly, on a daily basis, I wear Thai fisherman pants. They're light, they're comfortable, they accommodate my weight swings ... and when I first started buying them a few years ago, they were cheap.

The first pair I ordered, in 2017, came to $8.70. Those were plain black ones. Later, I started getting more gaily colored ones, but no real price difference seemed to obtain.

Last September, I purchased a pair of red RaanPahMuang brand pants. Price: $8.99.

This May, I purchased a pair of purple RaanPahMuang brand pants. Price: $8.99.

Current price for that brand in red (purple seems to be out of stock) (not an affiliate link): $26.79.

It's not just that brand or that color or that size. All Thai fisherman pants seem to have doubled or tripled in price over the last few months.

Of course, not all of the increase is necessarily due to monetary inflation. There could be supply chain problems, etc. keeping supply down, tariffs pushing prices up, etc.

But I'm starting to worry that I may have to abandon Thai fisherman pants for something cheaper. The one down side to those particular pants is that they tend to last maybe a year (given the frequency with which I wear them) before hems start to fray, pockets start to tear, and already thin fabric starts to become sheer. Basically, I order a new pair every 3-4 months and throw an old pair (one I've been wearing only around the house so as to avoid arrest) away when the new pair arrives. I try to keep seven wearable pairs on hand.

Why am I boring you with all this?

Well, because I'm two referrals (to a free daily email newsletter chock full of good information and fun stuff) away from getting a free Morning Brew coffee cup.

But more importantly, if I refer five new subscribers this week, I get ... you guessed it ... a free pair of ("jogger") pants!

You wouldn't want to see me wandering around without pants, would you? Please subscribe to Morning Brew (that is an affiliate link) today!

Monday, September 27, 2021

Yes, "Wokeness" is Compatible with Libertarianism ...

... just like, and to the same extent as, any other form of bigotry is.

Which is: Until and unless you use it to justify the initiation of force.

And whether "wokeness" or any other form of bigotry is compatible with libertarianism is a different question from whether "woke" bigots or other kinds of bigots are assets to a libertarian movement.

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